Little Ewe tells the story of a sheep who strays from the shepherd and spends her day exploring the countryside. One of the sweet distractions Little Ewe encounters on her day of exploration is figs! And I just love how illustrator Tommy Doyle has captured their green-purple hue and deliciousness in his illustration of Little Ewe rejoicing as figs tumble after seven sparrows land on twigs.
The inclusion of figs in the story was not by chance. As part of honoring the biblical retelling of the parable of the lost sheep found in Luke 15, I wanted every encounter Little Ewe made to be rooted in the Mediterranean terrain where the original parable, told by Jesus, took place. And if you look them up, you will discover that sparrows, figs, and, yes, even badgers, all resided or grew in the countryside Jesus knew and loved.
I also picked figs because, as a child, I didn’t even know they existed, except in the form of a fig bar, a favorite childhood cookie of mine. It wasn’t until I was all grown up that I had my first taste of an actual fig. I remember the moment vividly. We had moved to New Jersey, and my Italian American neighbor, whose mother had a fig tree on her property, shared a bowlful with us. Oh, my goodness! One bite and I was in heaven!
However, my picky-eater daughter, who was about five at the time, was sure she wouldn’t like them because they looked funny to her. Finally, after much joyful, animated eating on my part, she agreed to nibble one. She loved it. In fact, just one fig wasn’t enough. She wanted more and more! It was a figgy feast!
Thus, it was also with picky eaters in mind that I decided to include figs in my story.
At our house, we like to pair books we read with treats made from foods mentioned in those books. So, if you, like me, relish opportunities to broaden your picky eaters’ palates, may I suggest pairing Little Ewe with a bowl of figs? Or if they are not in season, how about fig jam, dried figs, or a fig cookie?
Happy Figgy Feasting!
Click here to learn more about Little Ewe by Laura Sassi.